Sunday, January 18, 2009

Growing up, fitting in

My Boy Scout got back today from the long-awaited Winter Campout, his first. He wanted to go last year as a Webelo, but he got sick and didn't make it. As a Webelo, Dad has to go along; as a Scout, he is on his own.

Well of course not exactly, but he was picked up and returned home by one of the troop leaders. He did most of his prep work and packing on his own; OK, some. He impatiently listened to my lecturing on being careful, staying warm, blah blah blah. When his ride arrived, he headed out without a backward glance, which is good since I was crying a little.

He came home today while we were at church. He let himself in, played with the dog, and had showered and gotten into unsmelly clothes by the time we got home. He'd had a great time.

There were times when it seemed this boy would never be able to do things like this. Give him a house key? Money? And expect him to fit in with a group? No way. A bit socially awkward even at a young age, he seemed to get worse rather than better as he grew. Oh, by around age 6 he figured out that his friends didn't want to be hugged to the point of falling over every time they saw him. But sometimes it seemed as if he would never fit in.

We worried, too, that when he got into groups of schoolkids, he'd be an outsider. He can't talk much about tv shows, current movies, or video games. But he can talk about planes and ships and exploding things quite well and those seem to suffice. He doesn't keep up with pro sports, and he's not very good at playing them, but he seems to be able to hold his own. I admit I marveled sometimes when, seeing him with his Webelo troop, it was obvious that he fit in. He wasn't a social outcast. He wasn't a freak. For all his early reading troubles, he read aloud at least as well as the boys in his den. He could ask and answer questions properly. He wasn't one of the ones often reminded to "ask serious questions, not goofy ones."

It seems that he's fitting into Boy Scouts well too. He does the work that's required of him. He holds his own. He's about as goofy as the rest of them. (Fortunately Boy Scout leaders know boys are goofy.) We're told he's well-behaved, helpful, and respectful. He fits in in all the right ways, but so far, not the wrong ones.

My unsocialized, homeschooled, geeky boy is becoming a young man. And a good one at that.

Yeah, all moms worry about that kind of thing. Maybe homeschool moms do a little more than others; we have more critical eyes on us. If our kids fail, academically or socially, we can't blame the school, the teachers, the lack of funding. Just ourselves.

So far, so good. We have a long way to go, but... we're getting there.


G said...

I really enjoyed this post! I think we all have worried about our kids fitting in, whether or not they are homeschooled. And it's great to see that they do!

DADvocate said...

OK, this is a little too weird.

My 15 year old son went on a Boy Scout camp out this past weekend too. He's not home schooled but another boy in the troop is. My son is the Senior Patrol Leader and makes sure every Scout does their part and is fully involved.

Because Scouts in our troop come from several different schools or are home schooled, being home schooled is no big deal. Some friends are "Scout" friends. The older Scouts love younger kids who do their share of the chores and participate in the activities. Kids who drag their feet and make life harder for the others aren't well accepted. It's pretty simple. In our troop, where you get your "schooling" doesn't matter.

If your son camped out at Camp Oyo near Portsmouth, OH, I'm going to freak out.

Marbel said...

OH is a little too far for us, here in the Philadelphia area.

That would be pretty freaky though!

One of the things we've told our new Scout is that the patrol leaders and troop leaders are watching all the time, so he's got to be on his toes all the time too.

DADvocate said...

The patrol leaders and troop leaders do watch. But, they're not expecting perfection just a genuine effort. None of the merit badge stuff is really very hard. I've never seem a kid not get a merit badge if he put forth a moderate effort. The hardest thing is to get kids to wash the dishes and otherwise clean up.